Page images
PDF
EPUB

To-stir, to rouse, to shake the Soul, he comes,
And Jove's own Thunders follow Mars's Drums.
Arrest him, Empress; or you sleep no more---
She heard, and drove him to th’ Hibernian shore. 70

And now had Fame's posterior Trumpet blown,
And all the Nations summon'd to the Throne.
The
young,

the old, who feel her inward sway, One instinct seizes, and transports away. None need a guide, by sure Attraction led, 75 And strong impulsive gravity of Head :

REMARKS.

Westminster-Abbey, under the patronage of the King, will not soon be forgotten. The magnificence and accuracy of which performances were beyond compare. It is remarkable, that in the earlier part of his life, Pope was so very insensible to the charms of music, that he once asked his friend Dr. Arbuthnot, who had a fine ear, “whether, at Lord Burlington's concerts, the rapture which the company expressed upon hearing the compositions and performance of Handel, did not proceed wholly from affectation?”

Dr. Burney observes, v. i. p. 329, that both Dryden and my friend Pitt, have inaccurately and improperly translated the passage of Virgil, b. 6, relating to Orpheus, v. 645.

“Obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum." Ver. 71. Fame's posterior Trumpet] Posterior, viz. her second or more certain Report: unless we imagine this word posterior to relate to the position of one of her Trumpets, according to Hudibras :

- She blows not both with the same Wind,
But one before and one behind;
And therefore modern Authors name
One good, and t’other evil Fame.”

P. * Ver. 75. None need a guide, -None want a place,] The sons of Dulness want no instructors in study, nor guides in life: they are their ownmasters in all Sciences, and their own Heralds and Introducers into all places. P.

None want a place, for all their Centre found,
Hung to the Goddess, and coher'd around.
Not closer, orb in orb, conglob’d are seen
The buzzing Bees about their dusky Queen. 80

The gath’ring number, as it moves along,
Involves a vast involuntary throng,
Who gently drawn, and struggling less and less,
Roll in her Vortex, and her pow'r confess.
Not those alone who passive own her laws, 85
But who, weak Rebels, more advance her cause.
Whate'er of dunce in College or in Town
Sneers at another, in toupee or gown;
Whate'er of mungril no one class admits,
A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits. 90

Nor absent they, no members of her state, Who pay her homage in her sons, the Great; Who false to Phæbus, bow the knee to Baal; Or impious, preach his Word without a call.

REMARKS.

Ver. 76 to 101.] It ought to be observed that here are three classes in this assembly. The first of men absolutely and avowedly dull, who naturally adhere to the Goddess, and are represented in the simile of the Bees about their Queen. The second involuntarily drawn to her, though not caring to own her influence; from ver. 81 to 90. The third of such as, though not members of her state, yet advance her service by flattering Dulness, cultivating mistaken talents, patronising vile scribblers, discouraging living merit, or setting up for wits, and men of taste in arts they understand not; from ver. 91 to 101. P. *

Ver. 93. false to Phæbus] Spoken of the ancient and true Phæbus ; not the French Phæbus, who hath no chosen Priests or Poets, but equally inspires any man that pleaseth to sing or preach. Scribl. P.

Patrons, who sneak from living worth to dead, 95
Withhold the pension, and set up the head;
Or vest dull Flatt'ry in the sacred Gown;
Or give from fool to fool the Laurel crown.
And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,
Without the soul, the Muse's Hypocrite. 100
There march'd the bard and blockhead, side by

side,
Who rhym'd for hire, and patroniz'd for pride.
Narcissus, prais'd with all a Parson's pow'r,
Look'd a white lilly sunk beneath a show'r.
There mov'd Montalto with superior air; 105
His stretch'd-out arm display'd a Volume fair ;
Courtiers and Patriots in two ranks divide,
Thro' both he pass'd, and bow'd from side to side:
But as in graceful act, with awful eye
Compos'd he stood, bold Benson thrust him by :

REMARKS.

Ver. 94. his Word without a call.] We might have expected an objection to this expression from Dr. Warburton. Ver. 99, 100.

And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,

Without the soul, the Muse's Hypocrite.] In this division are reckoned up, 1. The Idolizers of Dulness in the Great-2. Ill Judges—3. Ill Writers—4. Ill Patrons. But the last and worst, as he justly calls him, is the Muse's Hypocrite, who is, as it were, the Epitome of them all. He who thinks the only end of poetry is to amuse, and the only business of the poet to be witty; and consequently who cultivates only such trilling talents in himself, and encourages only such in others.

Ver. 103. Narcissus, prais'd] Means Dr. Middleton's laboured encomium on Lord Harvey in his dedication of the Life of Cicero. Had Mr. Pope ever read Dr. Warburton's dedication of his Essay on Prodigies, to Sir Robert Sutton?

On two unequal crutches propt he came,

11 Milton's on this, on that one Johnston's name. The decent Knight retir’d with sober rage, Withdrew his hand, and clos'd the pompous page.

VARIATIONS. Ver. 114. “What! no respect, he cried, for SHAKSPEARE's

page?"

REMARKS.

Ver. 110. bold Benson] This man endeavoured to raise himself to Fame by erecting monuments, striking coins, setting up heads, and procuring translations, of Milton; and afterward by as great passion for one Arthur Johnston, a Scotch Physician's Version of the Psalms, of which he printed many fine Editions. See more of him, Book iii. ver. 325. P. *

Ver. 112. Milton's on this,] Benson is here spoken of too.contemptuously. He translated faithfully, if not very poetically, the second book of the Georgics, with useful notes; he printed elegant editions of Johnston's Psalms; he wrote a Discourse on Versification; he rescued his country from the disgrace of having no monument erected to the memory of Milton in Westminster Abbey; he encouraged and urged Pitt to translate the Æneid; and he gave Dobson a thousand pounds for his Latin translation of Paradise Lost. Dobson had acquired great reputation by his translation of Prior's Solomon, the first book of which he finished when he was a scholar at Winchester College. He had not at that time, as he told me (for I knew him well), read Lucretius, which would have given a richness and force to his verses; the chief fault of which was a monotony, and want of variety of Virgilian pauses. Mr. Pope wished him to translate the Essay on Man; which he began to do, but relinquished on account of the impossibility of imitating its brevity in another language. He has avoided the monotony above mentioned in his Milton; which monotony was occasioned by translating a poem in rhyme. Bishop Hare, a capable judge, used to mention his Solomon as one of the purest pieces of modern Latin poetry. Though he had so much felicity in translating, yet his original poems, of which I have seen many, were very feeble and flat, and contained no mark of genius. He had no great stock of general literature, and was

115

But (happy for him as the times went then)
Appear'd Apollo's Mayor and Aldermėn,

REMARKS.

by no means qualified to pronounce on what degree of learning Pope possessed ; and I am surprised that Johnson should quote him, as saying, “ I found Pope had more learning than I expected."

Ver. 113. The decent Knight] An eminent person, who was about to publish a very pompous Edition of a great Author at his own expense. P. *

Ver. 115. But (happy for him] These four lines, of which the first is a very indifferent one, were not in the quarto edition of 1743, page 165: but were added on occasion of Sir Thomas Hanmer's edition, printed at Oxford in six large quarto volumes : which edition occasioned a violent quarrel betwixt Sir Thomas and Dr. Warburton, of which the reader may judge by perusing the two curious letters here annexed.

“ Milden-hall near Newmarket, “Dear Sir,

Suffolk, October 28, 1742. I have much doubted with myself whether it were proper for me to return an answer to the favour of your letter, till after hearing again from you or Dr. Shippen. There seem to arise some difficulties with respect to the design of printing a new edition of Shakspeare, and I beg it may be laid aside, if you are not fully satisfied, that some advantage may arise from it to the university; for I have no end in view to myself to make me desire it. I am satisfied there is no edition coming or likely to come from Warburton, but it is a report raised to serve some little purpose or other, of which I see there are many on foot, I have reason to know that gentleman is very angry with me, for a cause of which I think I have no reason to be ashamed, or he to be proud. My acquaintance with him began upon an application from himself, and at his request the present bishop of Salisbury introduced him to me for this purpose only, as was then declared, that as he had many observations upon Shakspeare then lying by him, over and above those printed in Theobald's book, he much desired to communicate them to me, that I might judge whether any of them were worthy to be added to those emendations, which he understood I had been long making upon that author. I received

« PreviousContinue »